Irregular Hunter X Review


Mega Man X has had quite a few different manga titles over the years. This one seems to be one of the less popular adaptions but it’s definitely a very strong manga. I liked that we actually got to see a matchup of two Reploids fighting each other who weren’t X, Zero, Axl, Sigma, Vile, or someone big like that. It makes for a pretty fun outside the box matchup. In general the manga is just very strong with solid artwork, a good story, and solid pacing. It’s a great adaption of the first game and it’ll definitely keep you wanting for more.

The story starts by introducing us to the world of Mega Man X. Reploids are now used to help in just about every area of life. There are some who have gone crazy though and believe that Reploids should be at the top of the food chain. They become Mavericks and are put down by the Maverick Hunters. The Hunters are led by Commander Sigma and his top warriors are the S Class hunters like Zero and Vile. X is the main character and he’s solid but at a lower ranking. His physical abilities aren’t quite as good as the others but he wants to be S rank someday. More and more mavericks have been popping up every day so this is X’s chance to prove himself.

In a lot of ways X is very similar to the classic Mega Man. He’s all about peace for the future and only taking down villains when there are no other options. Mega Man has been through many incarnations over the years and the same goes for X but the main constant is that he is usually the most emotional one. He is known to cry as he slays the enemies because he values life so much. It pains him to take down the Mavericks but he knows that not doing so would lead to even more casualties long term. So he does what he has to.

X is also very loyal to his friends. Even once Zero is stated to be a maverick X refuses to believe this and opts to let himself be destroyed instead of going and taking Zero down himself. Of course it would have been even better if he suspected Sigma but part of X’s character is that he believes in the best for every character. Naturally that includes Sigma as well. X is shown to be a very capable fighter here though and he consistently improves throughout the manga. I think fans will definitely be satisfied with how he looks here.

Zero definitely looks great here. He is definitely known as one of the strongest hunters of all time for good reason. With his Z Saber at the ready he just goes ahead and lays waste to all of the enemies in his way. He’s very quick to notice Mavericks causing trouble even when they weren’t on the official list to watch out for. Zero’s a very pro-active hero and one who always stays alert. He’s definitely the best character here. Vile’s also a fun S rank Hunter although of course he is one of the big villains here. In a fair fight it’s fair to say that he wouldn’t stand a chance against Zero though. He’s more of a ranged fighter which doesn’t match up so well against Zero’s up close and personal fighting style.

Sigma is also a pretty fun villain. The guy definitely has a lot of plans for the future. This was all really just the opening gambit for him but either way it was a solid plan. He’s an iconic Megaman character and I would consider him to be an improvement over Wily. This guy just feels like a huge threat in part because of how powerful he is. We get to see that briefly when he fights with Storm Eagle and easily dispatches him. I really liked that fight as Sigma did a good job of maintaining his cover this way. It just fleshes out the events of the game a lot. That’s really one of the big things that the manga did so well. It just takes the story of Mega Man X1 and really adds a lot of detail to everything. All of the mavericks are given some extra character development here like the rivalry with Snow Penguin and his fire counterpart as well as Storm Eagle’s absolute confidence. You like to see that because it changes them from just being another robot to be defeated. The Mega Man X games already did have extra detail compared to the classic games and this just took that to the next level.

Whenever you go through a Mega Man X adventure it always makes you wonder how we got to this point from the classic days. A lot certainly happened and this is far enough in the future where Dr Light and the others are long gone by this point. In a lot of ways the world feels like it’s at peace more compared to the classic one but then the Mavericks keep on spreading more and more until by X8 it feels like the world isn’t doing so well. It’ll be interesting if the manga titles also give off this feel. In this game at least I feel like things are still pretty hopeful right now.

The artwork is definitely really good here. The character designs are on point and the action is really solid. You really feel the weight of each battle and it all just flows together really nicely. I also liked seeing X with Zero’s buster even if it was brief. Zero was definitely right that this wasn’t a good idea though. You can’t just switch out weapons and expect everything to go over very well. It does seem like Zero’s weapon was a lot stronger though so no wonder he is always winning matches. X started to even things out with his various upgrades though. Once he has all of those he probably is the strongest Maverick Hunter. The adapting tech Dr. Light gave him certainly paid off quite nicely.

Overall, Irregular Hunter X is a very solid manga and I would highly recommend it. It’s over pretty quick so you’ll feel like the adventure ended as soon as it began. Still, you couldn’t ask for much more than what you got in these two volumes. Every character is given their chance to shine. The writing is on point and this should definitely get you interested in the original Mega Man X story. Soon I’ll be checking out a bunch of other Mega Man X manga adaptions so it’ll be interesting to compare them directly. It’s hard to picture them beating this one but they do have the advantage of having some bigger scale stories coming up. This one set the ball rolling for all of the other stories so they can just jump right into the action instead of introducing the characters.

Overall 8/10

Lego DC: Shazam!: Magic and Monsters Review


Feels like it’s been a while since DC came out with another one of their Lego adventures so it was nice to see this one show up. This time it’s Shazam’s turn to be the lead and he holds his own film pretty well. He’s always been a pretty fun character and since his abilities match up so well with Superman’s you can see them being good rivals. Naturally Batman does his best to grab a lot of the screen time as well so Shazam has to split it with him. It ends up being a bit of a team up film there but part of the charm in these Lego films is that the plot’s always moving pretty quickly so a lot happens here.

The movie starts with Shazam stopping some villains and even saving a dog from a tree. People are wondering who this new hero is and he’s definitely left a positive impression. Even the Daily Planet has become aware of his presence and so Clark Kent has to write a story about him. This is put on hold when a bunch of villains show up. The Justice League backs Superman up but it’s surprisingly a close fight until Shazam shows up and takes all of the villains down for the count. The League invites him to the team but the trouble for Shazam is that they have 3 rules: One of which is that no kids are allowed. Shazam can’t let them find out his secret but it might end up sabotaging his chances of being a member. Additionally Mr. Mind’s schemes aren’t quite over yet.

It’s pretty interesting to see Mr Mind getting a lead villain role here. The guy was teased at the end of the live action film so perhaps this is a bit of foreshadowing on what he could do. He can’t really fight all that well physically but has mind control so that’s always helpful. I don’t think the writers consider him to be that skilled though as he mentions multiple times that his abilities only work on weak willed people and kids. For the most part adults are off limits….that’s not going to be very good for him. Then there’s also the fact that he keeps hearing a voice in his head. There’s a nice twist about who’s talking to him at the end.

I did like his villain group though. It’s a pretty unique roster that you wouldn’t usually expect to see so I liked the creativity there. The guy fighting Superman was pretty interesting and the “Dummy” makes for a fun villain even if his matchup against the Flash has got to be the most one sided one. A guy with a gun taking on the fastest man alive? Really? Well, he did pretty well all things considered I suppose. The final act of the film also adds one more villain who was a lot of fun to see. Due to some plot reasons we don’t really get to see him mix it up with the League the way you would expect but I do think he would have made it a good fight.

Lego animation is pretty consistent so you either like the style or you don’t. It’s all pretty clear and what I like about the DC Lego adventures in particular is that they do still give you nice action scenes. The films are a solid blend of humor and action but a lot of the fight scenes are actually taken pretty seriously. Take the Batman vs Superman fight. Yes, these two get to go up against each other yet again. While they’re dishing out a lot of solid one liners and good banter, we get some real acrobatics here and see Batman pulling off some nice maneuvers. It’s easy to imagine this in the core DC animation style and the fight being pretty epic. So it’s the extra effort you get here that has always put DC at the very top of the Lego verse.

The writing is also really solid as always. Batman gets a lot of great lines in particular. I also like Superman’s showing here mainly in the first half of the film. It’s always nice seeing him as Clark Kent and he definitely takes the arrival of Shazam a lot more in stride than in Justice League. The movie has a lot of solid visual humor as well to match the lines like Shazam just casually popping in his Subway token to catch a ride to Eternity. It’s also just a very balanced portrayal of Shazam. As a kid Billy is a super nice guy as always even wishing well to the bullies who would pick on him. Then as Shazam he does keep in all of the SHAZAM attributes such as wisdom and speed which is good. It’s probably his best appearance since Superman & Shazam the animated short film that came out a while back. Even the Wizard looks good since he actually knows how to fight in this version and does a good job of holding his own.

Overall, Lego DC Shazam was definitely a really solid adventure. Shazam is a likable hero and would make a good regular addition to the team here. As always I would put Batman as the standout character here. In the Lego verse he really just owns the team and the writers have such a solid understanding of his character. In general the writing is just really good and the film’s pacing is also on point. I don’t really have anything to say against the film. It’s just a lot of fun throughout. I’d probably switch out the plot of the characters turning into kids that happens at one point but it does lead to some nice scenes so you could always say that he was still worth it. If you are in the mood for a fun film with some action and your classic DC characters around then you should definitely check this one out. The Lego films are also not that long so it’s not like it’ll take a lot of time either.

Overall 7/10

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Review


It’s certainly been a while since this film came out but it was finally time to give it a whirl. The first film definitely left quite a bit to be desired. I still believe that the designs for the Turtles were a big mistake and it’s a big part of why the films did not do so well. They just don’t look like the Ninja Turtles and that doesn’t change here. What does though is that we get better characters here. The inclusion of Casey was huge and definitely an excellent move if you ask me.

The movie starts with the Turtles sneaking in to watch a Knicks game. I can only assume that they were watching another team beat the brakes off of them the way every team seems to. It’s hard to remember the last time the Knicks were very good. Well, after blowing their cover they head home. The Turtles find out that Shredder has been busted out of jail and has some kind of big plan involving mutating people into powerful soldiers. You can also reverse the formula to turn the Turtles back into humans which has Donatello’s interest piqued. If such a thing is possible then the team may need to consider it. Meanwhile Casey needs to prove that he isn’t making the story about Shredder being broken out of jail up so he has to catch Bebop and Rocksteady. It won’t be easy though because those two are now a lot more powerful than they once were.

So I would say this film does enough where I would call it a pretty entertaining action film. I wouldn’t say it does anything amazing or stands out in particular but I just have to give it a certain amount of kudos. For example, as I mentioned Casey is an excellent character. The guy keeps everyone on notice all the time which is exactly what I want to see. He’s quite earnest even if he doesn’t realize when other characters are being sarcastic to him. He’s also surprisingly good at fighting. I think one of his standout scenes was when he took down a bunch of Foot Clan members. Not just anyone can do that or at least in theory people can’t just do that. So that was pretty neat. In fact, he was my favorite character in the film.

Falcon shows up as well and he’s quite famous now after the events of the first film. Thing is, I have to say that he earned it. By taking credit for what happened last time he is putting himself as a target for all the villains out there so you can’t say that the task came without risk. That’s pretty big and when the going gets tough he still does do his best and helps out the group despite it putting him at risk. I just don’t see how you can root against this guy. He’s dependable and has a lot of confidence but you absolutely need that confidence if you’re going to succeed in the dangerous world of TMNT.

The Turtles are still not great characters although I would say they’re a little better than in the first film aside from Leonardo. So in this film Leonardo is turning into one of those leaders who doesn’t care much for differing opinions. When he shuts down the idea of turning back into being a human he doesn’t give the other Turtles a chance to weigh in and even lies about it. He acts like he’s above the rest of the Turtles and this definitely isn’t earned. He gets them into a whole lot of trouble and I would say that everything after that scene was his fault in at least some way. If he had just been square with the others then none of this would have happened at all. It was an odd direction for his character to go.

At least he did something though. Splinter did nothing in the film and really had no point being here. I suppose the writer couldn’t think of anything for him to do? It’s just odd that he would only watch as the Turtles went out to fight each time and never tried to help. Maybe he’s just too old at this point or something like that. Not sure if I totally buy into that though. Then we’ve got April who’s the main heroine here. Her first scene definitely seems like it’s here for no reason other than fanservice but other than that she looks good and is a dependable ally. She digs up a lot of the initial information on the villains to keep things rolling and as a human she’s the only person who can handle some of the more direct missions. The Turtles can’t exactly go aboveground and be seen after all.

Rebecca is the Police Chief but she definitely didn’t look great. She’s just not a very reasonable character the whole time and is always getting in the way of the heroes. You’d think that she would at least have listened to the main characters a bit before just dismissing them all. It took Casey 5 seconds after reading the report on Bebop and Rocksteady to figure out where they were but she didn’t think to check it? Definitely a rookie mistake there that’s for sure.

As for the villains, fans of the Shredder will not be happy with his portrayal. He’s ultimately no more than a minion here and he never even gets a real fight scene. He’s just the side show here who follows orders. He also gets overwhelmed pretty quickly. Krang gets the true mastermind position here although he doesn’t appear a whole lot. He can definitely fight though which automatically helps make him seem pretty legit. Bebop and Rocksteady are mainly doing all the real work here. They have some crude humor moments that aren’t very good but also some solid humor scenes that actually can be effective. I think their best joke here was when one of them commented that he thought he was starting to put on weight so the other one started off pretty emotionally by saying it wasn’t true only to turn the tables and say that he was super fat.

The two of them have a really solid bond there which is always nice to see. It can be a bit rare among villains to have a pal after all. Another solid moment was when they said they were done being errand boys only for Shredder to show up and say that he specifically needed those. They were ready to graduate up to a different minion title but they were just too slow at the end which really cost them. I suppose at the end of the day it just wasn’t meant to be. One final villain is Baxter Stockman. He’s not nearly as fun as he was in the 2003 show but he does keep his intelligence here. He can be very excitable the whole time but also easily tricked as a result. The ending definitely doesn’t go the way he thought it would.

The effects are pretty solid aside from the Turtle designs. I still don’t know what they were thinking with those. The action scenes can be good as well although surprisingly there aren’t a whole lot of them. It feels like large chunks of the film go by without any. When we do get the action scenes though then the film does deliver. It’s definitely got that proper comedy/action blend going.

Overall, Out of the Shadows feels like a step up from the first film but it’s not quite at the level where it could be yet. For example there are many other films I would sooner check out over this one. This one definitely will have its time of course but after the initial watch there wouldn’t be much reason to check it out. If you’re a big TMNT fan then you should though. The scenes with Falcon and Casey would be the big reason to watch this film since they carry a lot of the scenes. Any scene with those two in it is bound to be a winner. I can’t exactly say the same for the Turtles though who don’t even come close to matching those two. Maybe they should rename it to Casey and the Turtles for next time. The humor can be hit or miss at times but at the end of the day this is a pretty lighthearted action film with quick pacing. At least you will not be bored while watching and I expect you will be reasonably entertained.

Overall 6/10

The Equalizer Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

I vaguely remember seeing posters for the Equalizer back in the day but didn’t know anything about it. Seemed like just another one of those films about a guy with a gun taking people down. With Mission Impossible being the greatest version of that plot I figured this one was toast. Still, it turned out to be a pretty solid movie. It’s got a strong plot and the key part here is that Robert makes for a very solid main character. He may be equalizing things by taking villains down in a rather lethal way but most of the time he does give them an out and if the villain takes the deal then they get to keep their lives.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Robert. He has a very respectable job at a supply store that’s like Home Depot and always takes time to visit his favorite café and get an order of coffee. He likes everything to be very precise and throughout the film you see him making sure that things are neat and tidy. Another regular at the shop is Alina and the two of them always make a bit of small talk. One day Alina is badly beaten by her boss for not continuing with her job despite a client going beyond his boundaries. Alina hopes to be a singer someday so she can leave this kind of nightwork behind but wasn’t quite able to leave in time. Robert decides to get involved personally and begins to go after the Russian mafia. On the villains side they have sent a man named Teddy to take down Ralph. Now it’s a matter of who will go down first.

Robert is quite skilled at fighting and espionage. This is made pretty obvious from the start like with how he just walks into the Russian base with no difficulty whatsoever. He’s also very confident and quite sure of himself at all times. I like this demeanor, it’s always quite effective for a hero if you ask me. You don’t have time to be questioning yourself when you’re in the middle of a fight after all. Like Sherlock Holmes Robert always focuses on the situation at hand and finds the most efficient path to victory. Then he takes it and heads off to victory. He had another such impressive scene at the very end of the film. The last action scene has him tie up a few loose ends and it’s another great showing since he was so outnumbered.

At his core Robert isn’t even a guy who looks for trouble. He just doesn’t like to see any injustice and makes sure to balance the scales. It’s likely why he chose the title of Equalizer. Making things equal out is something he enjoys doing. Even at the end when he gets a final scene with Alina as closure you can see how it helped him realize that this whole journey was worth it. He probably saved quite a large number of lives by taking the villains down but in particular he saved Alina’s and that was something very tangible that he would always remember. It’s a pretty solid ending to the movie as well.

I wouldn’t call the film very upbeat or anything as it does have a lot of serious tones. There is a considerable body count and not all of the good guys get out of this one. Still, the ending is pretty upbeat and that makes for a great ending scene. Robert had a friend named Ralph who was also pretty good. He may not have been straight with Robert about what happened at the restaurant but he likely made up the story to keep Robert safe as well so at least the intentions were good. Ralph was a solid guy and he did well for himself at the end of the film and didn’t back down when things got tough.

Then you have the main villain Teddy. He’s the only one who is actually able to keep up with Robert for most of the movie. They have a lot of cat and mouse confrontations during the movie which are always fun to see. He does quite a lot of damage to the villains in his own way too though. There’s one scene where he starts a fight with them and ends up bumping off at least 4-5 to make an example out of them. It’s a pretty intense scene but since he would have been blown away without his right hand man making some clutch shots I don’t know if I can call it a good plan. The guy makes for an intense antagonist but he was never shown to be quite equal to Robert so I wouldn’t call him a big threat.

Then you have the big boss Vladimir but that guy doesn’t show up a whole lot anyway so there’s not much to say about him. he wasn’t quite ready for this. The music in the film is pretty intense and definitely works out pretty well. The effects are on point as well. Some of the action scenes can definitely get quite violent though as Robert takes them all out in rather gruesome ways. He uses whatever he has on hand after all so sometimes that doesn’t leave him any room for a clean cut.

Overall, The Equalizer is a solid film. I think part of why it succeeds is in large part due to how great Robert is as a character. In a way it’s why the sequel will have to be careful with how they follow this up. I imagine that they will want to give Robert more of a challenge next time but part of the fun here was in how easy it was for him to defeat all of the challengers. I hope that even if he doesn’t look quite as good next time, he doesn’t make any huge mistakes or anything like that. The movie also tackled some pretty dark themes without going too in depth the way some titles do for a gritty feel. It’s an intense movie but I wouldn’t call it edgy or over the top. If you want to check out a solid action film then I would recommend this one. It’s a very solid start to the series.

Overall 7/10

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man Review


Crossovers are always a lot of fun. It’s just neat to see characters from two different series interact. There’s a lot of ways you can handle this. Have it just be the leads of two different series around, bring in one or two supporting characters from each verse, or just go all out with everyone showing up. It could be that characters from one universe fall into another one or the classic twist where they’ve been on the same planet all along. There are just so many variations. This one’s a pretty old school crossover and yet it does have a pretty grand feel to it. In this case it’s really a Wolf Man film guest starring the Frankenstein monster so it’s not an even split but a crossover that works really well all the same.

The movie starts with a pair of tomb robbers deciding to mess with the grave of the Wolf Man. (Not that they could have known this) This results in Larry reviving from his death and murdering one of them. He wakes up in a hospital the next day and has a feeling that he’s the guilty party but nobody believes him. He decides to go over to Maleva to seek her help since at least she knows about the Werewolf curse. She suggests visiting Dr. Frankenstein who may be their last chance. Unfortunately the town saw to it that he no longer exists and even the Frankenstein monster was seemingly destroyed. Can that really be true? The monster was incredibly powerful after all and wouldn’t go down so easily. Larry intends to get to the bottom of this mystery…even if it’s the last thing he does.

Right away you can see elements from the previous Wolfman film coming into play. You’ve got the old gypsy Maleva who gets a sizable role here. She’s quite hesitant to help but in the end she does support Larry as best she can so I’ll give her credit for that. Lesser characters would have just abandoned him right then and there. Then of course on Frankenstein’s side you’ve got the townsfolk who always want to burn everything to the ground. You can never tell one member from another to they may as well all be the same guys from the solo installments. Of course you’re really here for the two lead franchise characters but I do feel like having a the supporting characters show up is huge in making this feel like a big crossover.

Even though Frankenstein takes a while to appear you can’t help but get hyped as Larry heads into the town. You know that things are slowly ramping up and will lead to an inevitable clash at some point. Larry’s also just a pretty fun character so he works as a great lead. He doesn’t want to actually hurt anybody but isn’t able to control his transformations. His plot’s actually a bit on the dark side as he’s trying to find a way to end his life with how the curse has brought him so much pain at this point. Still, at his core he is still a hero and in the end he fights to protect his friends. He’s definitely a hero that you want to have in your corner.

As for Frankenstein himself, I’m still not a fan. He’s pretty much mindless as he walks around and wrecks havoc on the town. I do consider him to be a lot more powerful than the Wolf Man though. He may not be fast but once you’re within range of his fists then it’s basically over. You just aren’t going to be able to escape that grasp. At this point the monster seems to not even have any real goals. I suppose he wants to destroy any humans he sees but doesn’t exactly seek them out either. So I don’t know exactly what his deal is here but the film needs an antagonist so it’s good to have him around.

For the supporting characters we’ve got two main ones. Elsa who is the daughter of Doctor Frankenstein and Mannering who is the doctor in charge of Larry. Mannering started out pretty well as he did his best to protect Larry and even tracked him down a few cities away from where he was. The guy’s an extremely dedicated professional who has real connections. He also seemed prepared to fight with Larry if necessary when the lead made it clear that he wouldn’t go back. Unfortunately he quickly cracked near the end of the film as the mysteries of science were too much for him. The ending was so sudden though as the guy cracks for pretty much no reason. One second he’s sane and the next he isn’t.

Meanwhile Elsa is a much better character. She’s not exactly thrilled about getting roped back into the crazy experiments but she does her best to help out. She even warns Mannering a few times not that the guy would actually listen to anyone at that point. The Frankenstein half of the crossover needed at least one other character beyond the monster so she did a good job of representing her world. As expected the film’s writing is on point so all of the characters look pretty good here. The film even avoids some of the usual negatives you would expect like animal violence. It feels like the Wolf Man films tend to include that around so this one managing to avoid that was crucial. Frankenstein didn’t get to murder any kids either which was good because that’s another kind of scene you’re better off without.

Overall, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man is definitely a solid crossover that I would recommend checking out. It’s just so surreal to see the two monsters actually get to meet up like this. I think there’s probably a lot more potential having a crossover with two other series like Dracula and the Wolf Man just because they can actually talk and hash things out. At the end of the day Frankenstein is mindless so it’s not like there is a whole lot he can do to explain his position. Regardless, that’s probably why they have Larry as the main focus here and he holds up his end of the bargain rather well. With solid writing and just a grand sense that something cool is happening before you eyes, you can’t say you’ve completed your monster collection without this one.

Overall 7/10

Digimon World 4 Review


This has been a game I had on my backburner for an incredibly long time. I remember playing this for the Gamecube so many years ago but never got past world 2. Well, I went back and played the game from start to finish. It’s a pretty fun title but I do have to say that the story was a little on the disappointing side. There are a lot of moments where the story feels like it was skipped or was off screen. There is just barely a plot holding this together so much so that when you beat the final boss the credits just roll. There’s no final cutscene or any final dialogue. The game’s just over and it shoos you away to the next one. I feel like maybe it got a bit rushed.

The basic plot of the game though is that a virus is spreading and going to destroy the entire Digital World soon. The heroes naturally have to stop this so you’re sent out to finish them all. That’s about it for the story. Go to all 4 worlds and blow up the enemy Digimon. Doing so will be a good move and you’ll also get to feel heroic so that’s not a bad deal is it? It’s what you’ve always wanted to do. While there are only 4 worlds I would say the length of the game is still pretty decent. I’d estimate about 8 hours of gameplay more or less. The difficulty of the game is definitely what could extend this one. It’s clear that the game was made with multiple fighters in mind since the game supports 4 player co-op. You can counter the fact that the EXP goes at a slow rate by overwhelming the enemies with sheer numbers. In particular I found the first and last levels to be very tough. I had to do a lot of leveling up and retries in order to clear the final hurdle.

The game has an overhead combat style similar to Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance. You can choose from a few weapons such as a sword, axe, spear, or a gun. I highly recommend the gun. Attacking with the swords is just really dangerous because of how close you have to get to the enemies and how they keep moving while you are hitting them. You get a lot of attack power from close combat weapons but I don’t think it’s really worth it. The drawbacks are still too numerous next to the gun which really has no big weakness. You can spam it from afar and that will take care of the enemies no sweat. You can hold onto 3 weapons while you’re on the field though so feel free to bring one of each.

In this game you do need to improve your weapon levels to use them though. For example, if you have a gun level of 100 you can only use guns up to that level. So you couldn’t equip a level 105 gun. Then if you only use guns your sword level will be at 1 so even if you find an amazing one it’ll take a while to use it. TO improve your weapon level you need to keep using your weapon on enemies. Pretty self explanatory eh? There’s not a whole lot to explain on it so you’ll just get it right away. One thing to note is this is one of the first RPGs I’ve played where you can’t just use weapons you pick up. So if you pick up a weapon on the field then you will need to go back to base and go to the Digi Lab in order to equip it. that means you can expect a lot of back and forth trips. Additionally, you can’t hold too many items so get ready to sell some. You can only sell items one at a time though.

I think that’s really at the heart of the issues for Digimon. The game doesn’t seem all that polished. A lot of the elements here just take up way too much time. We’re just talking about small delays but they’re actions you have to repeat over and over again so the time starts to quickly add up. This occurs whenever you need to change a weapon, equip a mod, etc. It gets to the point where you don’t want to bother with equipment all that much. Just get a good loadout and then get ready to head out. The Hub World is also quite huge with 3 different areas one of which has 2 floors. There are various shops and such to be found here so you should memorize which area has which shops early on so you don’t go to the wrong place too often.

The game is at its best when it’s focusing on the actual dungeon exploration gameplay. You take out all of the enemies in your way and evntually head to wherever the boss Digimon is. Each world has 4 dungeons in it except for the last one which has 3. The dungeons typically have scores of enemies that will try to get in your way until you meet the boss to take him out. The boss is usually a lot easier to deal with than the minions so I don’t expect you will have any real issues there. The final boss is a handful though so my recommendation is a lot of run and gun tactics. If he hits you with the thunder palm it’s game over. If he hits you with the shadow balls then it’s game over. You really can’t let him hit you at all so just keep on running. If you think you can squeeze in another attack…don’t. It’s just not worth it at that point. You want to live because dying means you have to go through the entire dungeon again which can take a little while.

Also pro-tip, don’t trust the quick save. You have the ability to use a gate card to make a shortcut deep in the dungeon that takes you home. Thing is, the shortcut expires as soon as you quit the game so if you save and exit then that’s it for that. I got burned on that once. I guess it’s meant as just something fun to have on hand for long play batches but it’s definitely not something you want to take chances with. My other tip is to really use the healing attack a lot. You cant to have it keep improving since you recover more health that way and eventually you’ll never even need to use potions. It’s a great help not having to depend on the items. You can use that space for something else.

The graphics here are pretty good. It’s definitely got that nice Gamecube feel to it and looks very nostalgic. The boss designs are on point and the stages all look pretty different. The soundtrack is fairly standard and not too memorable but it works well enough I’d say. As mentioned the game length is fairly decent. There’s not really much in the way of replay value though. I suppose you could go and learn all of the evolutions to have fun with. I believe they take you back to level 1 though and since leveling up isn’t very fast in this game I’m guessing you won’t want to put so much time into doing things all over again.

Overall, Digimon World 4 is a fun game. It’s just one that feels like it was rushed quite massively towards the end. A lot of the gameplay mechanics take longer than they should and the story was nonexistent. The actual dungeon gameplay was fun though and having to go up against such large numbers of enemies can be pretty thrilling. You know that you can’t lower your guard for an instant or it’ll be over. I also appreciate the fact that this was made as a 4 player co-op game as you don’t really see that anymore. If you want to check out a Digimon game this is a good one to get but I would sooner recommend Cyber Sleuth or Rumble Arena.

Overall 6/10

Days of Thunder Review


Sport based films tend to be a lot of fun. Naturally I’d be most partial to a Football movie but you can also do quite a lot with Basketball and Tennis as they are high action sports. Then you’ve got car racing which is a sport but then you also see it used a lot more recreationally like in Need for Speed or Fast and the Furious. Well, this film is really about Sport car racing and it’s executed pretty well. I would definitely give this a thumbs up and would definitely recommend it. It’s got a quick pace, likable characters, and a good story to back it up. When you mix all of those elements in together then you’ve really got a recipe for success.

The movie starts with one team owner deciding he needs to start getting some wins again. He recruits his old pal Harry who used to be one of the best mechanics in the biz. He then recruits a racer known as Cole who has never really competed in this kind of circuit but is a whiz at cars. Cole proves himself rather well but has one weakness, he doesn’t understand the technical aspects of racing a car. He’s got the skill, he just never learned the terminology which puts him at odds with Harry quite often. Can the two of them reconcile their differences and get their car to win the big championships or at the end of the day are they doomed?

Of course there are other plots going on here as well. You’ve got Rowdy who used to be a huge rival with Cole to the point where his methods were rather underhanded and dangerous. When they have an accident Rowdy is confronted with the possibility that he may not be able to race again. He quickly becomes a fun character by the second part of his character arc. The scene of him and Cole racing around in their wheelchairs is definitely the best scene in the film if you ask me. The music was on point and it had a good amount of humor.

Then you’ve got Dr. Claire who is trying her best to help Rowdy and Cole but the two of them are quite stubborn and don’t really listen to her advice the way they should. This certainly causes a lot of friction as well that is difficult for her to navigate. There is a bit of a romance set up between her and Cole but I would have to say that this is the weakest aspect of the film. The romance doesn’t really seem to have a purpose here other than ensuring that the movie has some romance in it. Once that plot’s over with it goes back to the main focus of being all about the races. Claire’s definitely a very reasonable character throughout and knows what she’s talking about. She does not like racing and it’s easy to see why. It’s a very dangerous sport. I like watching Football for example but I would definitely never play it. Just seems entirely too risky to me.

Towards the end of the film we also meet a guy named Russ who surprise surprise, is also a dirty racer. From the start you can tell that this guy is going to be an issue from how he addresses Cole. He sure has a lot of confidence considering that the guy was only just hired. He makes for a good endgame boss though. Then of course we’ve got Harry who really is a solid mechanic. I do think he needs to own up to a bit more of the responsibility whenever Cole’s car breaks down though. Whether he was gripping too tightly or not that sounds to me like the car could be built a little sturdier. If you’re trying to win and going at 100% then it just sounds to me like the car should be able to take that. Once he and Cole have a good dynamic going though they are definitely all set for the rest of the journey.

Finally there’s Cole and he’s a solid main character. He’s got a good amount of confidence himself and is serious about winning all of the races. He’s definitely not the kind of guy who is satisfied with second place. It’s the gold trophy or nothing for him. He also does have a sense of humor off the field. When he’s on it though the guy is pretty serious and will blame just about anyone if he doesn’t score first. The pressure does seem to get to him at times.

Part of what helps make Days of Thunder succeed here is that it’s just a very balanced movie. The writing is solid and the character cast is good. Mix that in with a good story even apart from the racing and you have a winning formula. The blend of humor and thriller aspects works out quite nicely. Then for the races themselves you can tell that a lot of good effort was put into them. It’s definitely very exciting to see the cars moving so fast and trying to get the inside corner. I admit that part of why watching it in real life isn’t so thrilling to me is because it does seem like nobody’s doing much of anything since you’re just driving in circles but of course it is an incredibly difficult task to pull off. By shifting camera angles all over the place the movie makes the races feel a lot busier which is good.

Overall, I would recommend checking out Days of Thunder. It’s really a solid movie that succeeds on all accounts. I don’t expect it’s a movie that would have you giving it a bunch of awards of anything after watching but it’s just fundamentally sound. There are no big issues with the film that would have me docking it any points. It’s just got really good fundamentals and that’s exactly what you want to see from a film like this. I’d definitely be on board with some more racing films. We don’t see a whole lot in the circuit and it’s a nice change of pace but what I think the best thing to do would be is to have a sequel take place in the city. Have the company rent out a bunch of blocks so you’re going at high speeds in that environment. That would work out quite well.

Overall 7/10

Godzilla Raids Again Review


Godzilla has had a rich history with lots of films and adventures over the years. He has easily become the most well known monster of all time and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. He’s just too legendary at this point. Well Raids Again was one of the first films to come out in the series and it’s pretty interesting to see him back in the original days. Godzilla was still a pretty heroic Kaiju at this point in time but this was back when the government really didn’t understand him so they spend the whole film trying to bring him down. It’s a movie that has aged pretty well and gives us a lot of the fun Kaiju scenes you’ve been waiting for. There is a little less stomping on the buildings here but we still get our share of action.

The movie starts with the main characters doing a routine patrol when one of their planes has engine trouble. Tsukioka goes to rescue Kobayashi from his fate but getting out of here will be quite difficult. They have landed on Monster Island where Godzilla and Anguirus are currently duking it out. The two characters figure they should get out of there and escape as Anguirus and Godzilla fall into the ocean. The government quickly decides that they have to find a way to destroy Godzilla and fast but how to do it? Without the Oxygen Destroyer they are at a loss. Meanwhile while they focus on Godzilla what if Anguirus ends up making a comeback?

Anguirus is a pretty solid supporting character but is typically portrayed as one of the weaker Kaiju. He’s usually more of a sidekick to Godzilla compared to Rodan who’s portrayed as an equal. In this film he looks pretty good though and even has Godzilla on the defensive for a good chunk of the film. The king of the monsters just can’t shake the guy and he also appears to be immune to the Atomic Breath which is very handy indeed. Anguirus just shakes it off each time. Ultimately once Godzilla gets his bearings he is still the stronger Kaiju here though. He won twice fair and square.

This movie seems early enough in the mythos where Godzilla was more of a mindless monster and doesn’t seem to think a whole lot though. He’s distracted by bright lights and just seems to go everywhere on instinct. Even at the end of the film while the heroes are burying him alive Godzilla doesn’t really do anything to escape. He roars a bit and looks around but doesn’t do anything more than that. You feel like he should have been able to escape this either way though so I would say this was probably one of Godzilla’s least impressive appearances. He would only get stronger from here though and the movie does portray him well. It’s always fun to see Godzilla show up and I feel like we didn’t have to wait as long as normal to see him this time around.

It’s definitely good to have Godzilla showing up but that’s not to say that the human plot is bad. Of course when you’re watching a film like Godzilla then you’re really in it for the Kaiju. Anything else would be considered a bonus at best. The most important thing is that the human plot should not take away from the Kaiju one. So as long as you don’t have a bad plot in you’re good. There are two main human plots going on. The first is the prison break with the villains escaping from transit to another jail. As you may expect things don’t go great for them but it’s a pretty fun scene. They all band together for the plan and then dash like their lives depend on it. I think it does underscore why travelling in a van like that with only two guards is incredibly dangerous. If you don’t almost immediately fire off your guns then you’re going to be on the defensive.

Then you’ve got the main characters with “Mr. Groom” who are all just trying to have a good time. Things tend to end rather tragically for most of these characters. Kobayashi definitely didn’t play the ending right as he let things get too personal and it clouded his judgment at a critical time. The plan was always going to be very dangerous though so it’s not surprising that Godzilla took most of them down. He doesn’t tend to start the fights but he certainly ends them. Tsukioka and Yamaji meanwhile are pretty good friends to Kobayashi and make sure to keep on working hard. Tsukioka’s on the field so he gets to directly try to avenge him while Yamaji helped him have a lot of fun while he was around with playful banter and teasing about the secret name he had in his book.

Overall, Godzilla Raids Again is a solid film. It’s got your classic monster action at the ready and some decent characters running around. Just having a second monster always makes a huge difference in these films and I’m of the opinion that this was actually better than the original entry in the series. The film’s pacing is on point and the movie has no real weaknesses. It’s just a lot of fun and the pacing is fast so something is always happening. It’s also nostalgic to see one of Godzilla’s first suits. It’s aged pretty well I’d say and same for Anguirus I’d say as the suit looks a lot like the newer ones. He’s definitely not a character you can really afford to underestimate. If you haven’t seen this film yet then you should definitely change that and check it out.

Overall 7/10

Casper: Spirit Dimensions Review


Casper is one of those characters that I don’t know nearly as well as I should. The ghost’s a bit of a mystery to be honest but I do know that he’s about as friendly a guy as you’ll ever meet. The game was sitting on my backlog for an incredibly long amount of time in part because the first few levels weren’t great and also because the old TV had a really hard time with loading up old graphics. Well, now I was finally ready to give this another go. The game isn’t very long at all and makes for a decent playthrough. I’d say the game still has some gameplay elements holding it back but you should still have a good time for a few hours until you complete it.

The game starts with Casper noticing that the house is rather empty. Wendy shows up and lets him know that a powerful being known as Kibosh has appeared and taken all of the ghosts down. Casper is the only ghost left who is not enslaved or now working for the villain. She pleads with Casper to help but the young hero is reluctant since he believes that a friendly ghost won’t be enough for this mission. He keeps bringing up the fact that he is a friendly ghost as if it was a weakness. If only he knew that this was what made him strong. Still, in the end he does decide to help. Can Casper take this guy down?

The game has 4 worlds. Most of the worlds are pretty quick. In general you can even beat the game in around 2 hours based on videos that I’ve seen. It took me considerably longer than that though, I want to say around 5 hours or so. Mainly it can always be tough to find some of the collectibles. This game is a 3D platformer but at its core a lot of emphasis is put on collecting things. Whether it’s buttons, cannons, or something like that you’ll always be trying to find something. Keep on searching long enough and eventually you will be able to get at it. Usually the final collectible is hidden in a rather unique place like through a tunnel or past a gate somewhere. So just don’t give up.

Each level has a similar formula like that. Someone will tell you to locate the 5 pieces and once you do then he’ll give you a piece of the next collectible. Once you get the rest of the items then you’ll be able to challenge the boss of that world. Most of the bosses are pretty straight forward. Just spam your energy blast and you’ll be okay. Alternately some bosses will have you focus on a weak spot first. That’s the case in the final boss. Make sure you blast at him so he drops some energy which will power Casper up and allow future blasts to hit him.

As Casper you have quite a few attacks. You can charge into enemies to deal some pretty solid damage that way. You can fire classic energy blasts, fire blasts, and ice moves. You can also use some energy to shoot a charged blast or an electric move. Then you’ve got the ability to turn intangible for a few seconds which will prevent enemies from hurting you. It’s pretty handy in the final boss but otherwise you’ll just be using this for puzzles and to find more collectibles. The fact that you can fly without any time limits is nice. It feels like a lot of games don’t let you do this so I’m glad Casper didn’t think of some crazy reason for why we wouldn’t be able to do this. It absolutely would have felt very forced, I can guarantee that.

The difficulty is pretty reasonable. I wouldn’t say the game is all that hard but you can’t be sloppy either. If you just fly into the opponents and start blasting at random then you will absolutely be defeated. You have to go in with a certain degree of caution. The best thing to do in the game is strafe around the opponents. Hold R as you move and you won’t get hit in a 1 on 1 battle. You’ll always be around the corner and that’s pretty key here. If you keep that in mind and also the bit about the collectibles then you’ll be good. Please note that if you fall into a portal during a mission then you have to start from scratch so don’t let that happen to you. I’m guessing it saves the game some memory doing this but it can be pretty easy to fall into one, that’s for sure. Slow and steady wins the race here.

There isn’t a lot of replay value though. I guess you could go back to try and gain some more gems to improve your overall completion% but I don’t see how it helps at all. There don’t appear to be any rewards for doing so which definitely seems like a mess. If you really enjoy the gameplay then it’s still something at least. The campaign is around 4-5 hours since I don’t think you’ll be able to crack all of the puzzles immediately. I certainly wasn’t able to at least. You can typically find this game for really cheap nowadays so that’s something to keep in mind.

Overall, Casper: Spirit Dimensions ended better than it began. I do think the gameplay was rather ambitious. It may not have been super polished and little things here and there like the collecting mechanics not being explained very well or the portals erasing progress can be pretty annoying but the core gameplay itself was good. Kibosh definitely made for a decent villain and I dare say that he may have been Casper’s deadliest opponent. It’s hard to top that guy at least. Make sure you stick around for the ending as well. It was definitely leading up to a sequel but I suppose we never quite got that one. Too bad, it could have been really interesting if you ask me. If you see this in stores I’d recommend checking it out if you want to play a nostalgic platformer.

Overall 6/10

Sakura Wars: The Movie Review


Sakura Wars the marathon has now reached the big movie. It’s always great to see a series get its first feature film since that’s when you know that you’ve made it into the big time. The Sakura Wars film does not disappoint and is a quality follow up to the show. It may not be going for a very ambitious story but it’s a nice chance to see the characters again and even introduces another member to the squad. You’ll be entertained the whole way through and most of the characters get their big moments to shine.

All right, so the film opens with the heroes having another successful show. They’re then introduced to a new person who has been dispatched to join the Flower Division. Her name is Ratchet and she comes from a more extreme division. She’s not here long term but figures she can learn something from the group during this stay. She has a reputation of being quite fierce though. Orihime and Leni used to work with her. Orihime is jealous of how skilled Ratchet is while Leni straight up fears her. It’ll definitely be tough to get this unit working together, particularly since Ogami is no longer with the group.

Then you’ve got the fact that a new company has shown up and claims that the Flower Division may not be needed soon. That’s because they have built their own mechs and in their defense, these mechs do seem rather powerful. The demons are attacking more than ever but these guys are always around to stop them. It’s a little convenient that they show up at the perfect spot each time right? The business man quickly gets the government on their side but when things go sideways the Flower Division will have to band together for one more adventure. Will they be able to get to the bottom of this conspiracy and keep the country safe?

I think the instant the businessman shows up you’ll suspect foul play. In truth I don’t think you’re supposed to have any doubt on who to root for here and the real dilemma is seeing the bigwigs at the government get fooled yet again. It’s really not hard to trick these guys eh? You’ll mainly just be disappointed in the fact that all of the higher ups are not particularly quick on the uptake here. Yoneda’s right hand woman is eager to just follow orders and Yoneda himself doesn’t do much until it’s too late. It’s really up to Sakura, Ratchet, and the crew to set things right.

Now, at this point the cast is rather large so not everyone gets to do a lot. While most of the characters get their moment to shine, some don’t do a whole lot. Sumire for example is one very popular character that I was surprised didn’t get to properly do anything here. I suppose she got enough screentime in the show but I would have expected some kind of rivalry between her and Ratchet. It’s hard to see them getting along very well but they were pretty amiable here. Kanna gets to knock out a guard but doesn’t do much beyond that. Kohran finally had an invention that didn’t break so I’ll give her a pass here. Iris spends her time consoling Leni and this is Leni’s worst appearance by far. Ratchet is pretty intense but I feel like Leni exaggerated in being so afraid of her. At the end of the day Ratchet does seem like a good person.

That leaves the characters with the bigger roles. Orihime has a presence in this film but I can’t say that it’s a good one. She lets her jealousy get the better of her rather easily. Now, it’s a fun plot point and all but if you’re going to act like this then you gotta be able to back it up. Orihime volunteers for a mission that is clearly over her head and doesn’t prepare at all. It’s no surprise that she gets wrecked almost instantly. The sad truth is that Ratchet would have done a lot better which really justifies why she is so confident in herself.

Maria’s role is quite excellent though. She’s always been portrayed as one of the sharpest characters and she’s the first to suspect that something isn’t right. She gets two full action scenes to herself without the mech which is always fun to see. It makes for a great way to close out the film with her final moments and she proves why she is qualified to lead the team while Ogami is away. She’s such a strong character and the only reason I don’t have her higher up the list is because the team is stacked with such quality characters like Sumire and Kanna.

Then you’ve got Sakura who is still the main character of course. She looks very good and patiently helps to make sure that the team sticks together. She naturally disagrees with Ratchet’s more lethal approach throughout the film. While they never really come to blows, Sakura does step in to block Ratchet from murdering more people. Had things continued on that path I could have seen them fighting and I think it would be a close fight. Ratchet seems more skilled to me, but with her holy power Sakura just needs one hit to win. It would be a fun battle for sure. So Sakura is consistent as being a very solid character here.

Then you have the newcomer Ratchet. I must say that I thought she was a fun rival type character. I always like having the hero who shows up and decides that the villains must all be terminated. It always makes for some solid internal conflict. She can also have her lighter moments like when she trolls the characters at the beginning by pretending she can only speak English. Having her show up from America was a nice way to acknowledge the global presence of the fighters. The Flower Division reps Japan but of course there are divisions all around the world. I can’t say I’m surprised that the American branch is the one that murders everyone who stands in their way. That seems to be a common element when America gets involved in these things. Ratchet’s utmost confidence is one of the reasons why her character succeeds.

The only scene I found a bit questionable for her was the final play and in general the scene was a bit confusing. It’s an interestingly layered approach to having her and Sakura talk things out. Thing is, I’m all up for the conversation but it’s implied that Ratchet comes close to murdering her. It can be hard to tell where the play starts and ends with their conversation having multiple meanings but Ratchet seemed deadly serious. Destroying Sakura seems like it would have absolutely no benefit and doesn’t seem to be in line with Ratchet’s goals. Ratchet wants to complete the missions at all costs so destroying Sakura during a mission if she gets in the way makes sense but now? I just couldn’t really grasp Ratchet’s inner motivations at this point. She was clearly conflicted and confused but I thought it was an odd time for this to come out. I’d also argue that the other friends should have been closer by to try and put a stop to things. At their distance they wouldn’t have been in time to do anything.

Ogami gets a very small role here but it’s an excellent one. I won’t spoil what goes down but it’s one of the standout scenes in the movie. I’m glad he’s finally getting some respect here. The animation is definitely really good as you would expect. The best animated scene is likely when Sakura and Ratchet are taking care of the guards. They handle them quite seamlessly and the choreography is on point. The climax is also fun although the animation has less time to shine since the heroes are taking down one of those “I’m huuuuuuuge” opponents who can’t really do much in response. We get some good teamwork combos and determination moments though so it balances out. You always got to end the film with a big action scene and while I question why it always has to be a giant opponent in the end, it does work as a threat to unite everyone.

I didn’t talk much about the government plot but there’s not a whole lot to tell there. The idea of using mechs to support the division honestly isn’t bad. If they weren’t so greedy it could have worked and it’s something Commander Yoneda should still look into. I always thought there was no reason why they can’t make more robots. Sure, the users wouldn’t have spirit energy but wouldn’t the actual mech suits be enough as good backup? I believe it comes down to how durable the demons are but since conventional weapons sometimes have a bit of effect I think it’s worth it. Using captured demons to fuel power to fight demons? Now that’s a plan that sounds doomed from the moment it starts.

The soundtrack is fairly standard. You’ll recognize some tunes from the show and some new ones. None of them are super memorable or anything but they work well enough in the context of the scenes they show up in. I’d describe the tunes are smooth background music that doesn’t really stand out so it helps you focus on the dialogue. I wouldn’t mind more of a metal theme for the fights at some point though. The film has its share of darker moments where an ominous theme would work like when the villains first encounter Maria. Those two villains were pretty creepy and definitely came across as very intimidating.

Overall, I would definitely recommend the Sakura Wars movie. You may be a little confused if you jump into this one before watching the show though. The scenes with Sakura and Ratchet were definitely fun and the movie moves on pretty quick. None of the scenes drag on and there is always something happening. The movie has enough of an upgrade in animation where you definitely feel like this is a cinematic experience. I always feel like having that extra boost helps to make the experience feel legitimate. It tells a very complete story from start to finish. I look forward to seeing what other stories the franchise has in store. I admit that while the franchise does tend to move the characters around I’ll miss having the original group at the ready although it would be nostalgic if they could bring back the American branch from the So Long My Love title. That group was a lot of fun as well.

Overall 7/10